THE BLOG
08/13/2007 09:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Happy Birthday Hitchcock

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Today is Alfred Hitchcock's birthday and what
better way to celebrate the master's 108th than
through his women? His wounded, weird, gorgeous,
sexually strange but extraordinarily erotic
women--femmes who'd drive most of us to a state of
amour fou. And Hitchcock understood such mad love. He
also, despite some claims to the contrary, understood
women, or rather, a certain kind of woman.
Hitchcock, whom people love to apply the actors as
cattle quote ad nauseam, saw something deeply
disturbed inside womankind--especially blonde
womankind. He understood their perfected calculations,
their sexual mystery, their age-old competitions, and
their alternately reserved and hysterical glamour and
power.

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Though I could point out numerous Hitchcock films
(Psycho with Janet Leigh for one), three
stick out: Vertigo, The Birds and
Marnie. All reveal the director's
predilection for leaving his heroines vulnerable to
danger, dementia and doom. In these films, we can see
Hitchcock's bent, or as Camille Paglia states in her
excellent assessment of The Birds, his
"perverse ode to woman's sexual glamour...in all
its seductive phases, from brittle artifice to melting
vulnerability."

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Who more perfect to represent Paglia's declaration
than Kim Novak, who gave the best performance of her
life in Vertigo, and Tippi Hedren, a woman
whose career seems to have revolved around
Hitchcock's? The luminous Grace Kelly may be
considered the quintessential Hitchcock blonde goddess
but she's not as cinematically artistic as Novak or
Hedren. She is a supreme Hitchock heroine for
certain--an assured actress with mathematically
perfect features, a patrician on the outside and a
sexual animal underneath, Kelly's not a simplistic
princess. But Kelly is interesting because she's
too perfect (James Stewart's complaint in
Rear Window and why Sinatra fell for her in
High Society). And with that, she never
touched the wounded, transgressive eroticism of Hedren
or Novak. Part of that could lie in Hitchcock
himself--he never tortured her. The more neurotic
Hedren and Novak appeared in his pictures (and Hedren
was a particularly bizarre interest for the director),
the more responsive they seemed to the darker
situations their auteur placed them in.

href="http://sunsetgun.typepad.com/sunsetgun/2007/08/today-is-alfred.html">Read
the rest of my ode to Hitch, Kim and Tippi here.

Read more href="http://sunsetgun.typepad.com/sunsetgun/">Kim
Morgan at Sunset Gun
.